my intro to wood working #6: life's little hazards

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Blog entry by romansfivefive posted 07-04-2008 04:36 AM 1316 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: measure twice, cut once... or twice... maybe more Part 6 of my intro to wood working series Part 7: out with the old mess in with the new mess »

I cut myself in the shop for the fist time the other day. Since starting my work with wood, I have had nicks and scrapes before ( one time I nicked my thumb without realizing it and spent the next 5 minutes trying to figure out how the red paint was getting on the truck I was making. The more I turned the truck over, the more paint seemed to be miraculously appear randomly on the wood felt really dumb when I realized it was my blood) but nothing needing a bandaid until the other day. I use hearing protection, safely goggles, I keep all the guards in thier place and I have read most of the manuals… not really, but I looked at the pictures. In the short time I have been experimenting with power tools, I have had the chance to use a jig saw, band saw, scroll saw, table saw, mitre saw, reciprocating saw, hack saw, chain saw, hand saw, circular saw routers, jointers, planers, grinders, sanders and rotary tools without so much as a scratch, last week I tried to open the packaging on a florecent light bulb for my shop and I gave myself a nasty gash… here is the embarrassing part, I was using my kid’s safety scissors.

I was trying to hack through the edge of the molded plastic packaging and the closest tool was the kids scissors. I was squeezing the scissors so hard that the packaging squirted from between the blades leaving the fold of skin between my thumb and index finger in it’s place. The scissors won. I went upstairs and while I was trying to descretely mend myself, my darling wife asked me what happened. I stopped dead in my tracks.

My first reaction was to deny that it was the kiddie scissors. I don’t know why, but I wanted to pretend the wound was the result of something much more manly. I am not sure why doing dumb things with power tools seems more manly than doing dumb things with kiddie toys, but it does. I avoided the temptation and ‘fessed up to being so abusive with a tool that I turned something engineered for safety into a weapon. My wife didn’t laugh. Well she didn’t laugh right away. It was funny in a bunch of way. It was humorous to recount the attack of the kiddie scissors, but it was also amusing to consider my initial reaction.

I don’t think it is just me though. I once worked with a guy who was a wheeler dealer. I always had some kind of deal on the go. He confided in me once that he had had 3 different cars reposessed. He sat somberly for a second contemplating this, then he smiled and said, but ya know what…they were all cadillacs! I am not sure how defaulting on a huge loan is better than defaulting on a small one, but I think that there is something about the man’s brain that lets us justify losing as long as we could have won BIG. I think that is one of life’s little hazards. Some times we measure the costs of our actions against the potential rewards as a way of soothing the fact that we aren’t happy with the way things work out. Another friend ignored all else and worked so hard that he was a millionaire before he had left his 30’s. He can now afford great divorce lawyers. The payoff didn’t change the fact that he was hurt so badly when his wife left.

I think for me, the fear and apprehesion of misusing the power tool has so many real dangers for me that I am very cautious. I wish I could keep the same kind of respect for the other tools in my life. I wish I could understand more easily the dangers of misusing trust, respect, loyalty and integrity and the invisible wounds that accompany thier abuse. As I found out, even the most harmless tool can sting if you push it past it’s limits. The problem is that the safety limits for the important things are in life’s owner’s manual and I have gotten quite used to looking at pictures instead of reading for myself.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

5 comments so far

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

733 posts in 4780 days

#1 posted 07-04-2008 04:56 AM

Insightful and thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Allison's profile


820 posts in 4960 days

#2 posted 07-04-2008 05:49 AM

You brought up something I was taught as a child, I don’t know why it was always told to me (as if there may have been a story behind it) but I was always taught that the dullest of blades on anything will do the most harm. I have yet to cut myself with a pair of sharp scissors but I have a 30 year old 3 stitched mark on my left hand from a very dull pair of scissors.I think when you know it’s “dangerous” as a human we just are more careful. but when you are thinking this is a kids toy you don’t think nothing of it. Then at a point in my life I went to nursing school and was taught that the dullest of blades DO indeed cause the most harm because they are not sharp therefore they are ridged and indeed WILL cause more harm because they will yank more flesh. A false sense of security. Have you ever noticed how a kid can get a childproof cap off? Thanks for posting this. Maybe I need to call my 87 year old Daddy and see if I can’t get the details out of him for the way they raised me on this aspect

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

View gator9t9's profile


333 posts in 4866 days

#3 posted 07-04-2008 08:27 AM

I have to second the words of Allison …as a chef and cook for 20 yrs …I seemed to either cut myself while going too fast or on the edge of DULL KNIVES cutting veggies ….... the knife was dull and it did not cut into the meat of the veg …an bounced off …..into me …be careful its a jungle out there …
Thanks for making us all think about your lil tale of woe …

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View toyguy's profile


1758 posts in 4999 days

#4 posted 07-04-2008 12:50 PM

There is many lessons in this blog, we all need to take our time and stop once in a while and smell the roses.

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 4782 days

#5 posted 07-04-2008 03:01 PM

Since I recently experienced a shop injury as well this post caught my attention. My injury was actually on the router table and was not a result of improper setup or dull bits. It was my own complacency and comfort level with the tool. Because I had successfully performed the operation I was doing many times before and I just “KNEW” that nothing bad could happen. Lo and behold something did happen, the bit caught the work piece the wrong way pulled it one way and my middle finger into the spinning bit. Before I knew it my finger tip was rounded over. Several stiches and adeformed finger later I have re-evaluated the comfort level I have with my equipment,

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